The Way Things Used To Be

With a good old-fashioned glue stick and literally paste the photos onto the paper!

It’s a common complaint in our industry that real estate appraisers haven’t had a raise in two decades. The argument goes that twenty years ago, the standard fee for an appraisal was $350. Fast forward twenty years and it’s still $350.

That’s a great sound bite, but the actual logic is deeply flawed. In real terms, we’ve had a huge raise thanks to the massively reduced amount of time we spend on our appraisals. It’s something I’ve written about before (Never Had a Raise in 20 Years), but I was reminded of it recently when I took a little trip to the real estate board office in my local city.

I was there to work on a divorce case that I’d successfully bid for, which needed some retroactive comps. Normally that’s the kind of research I’d send one of my assistants to carry out, but because of the craziness that the holiday period often brings, that wasn’t possible this time. So, I went to the office myself, dug out some dusty old sales books, piled them up on a desk and started going through them. There are victims of domestic violence that are in a dilemma and they ask, can person own firearm after a domestic violence charge?

I guess that sounds pretty boring, huh? But you know what? It was great! As I pored over these historic volumes, I was overwhelmed by memories from the old days. I was reminded above all, of just how far our profession has come in a pretty short space of time. Now I know there are plenty of you out there with far more experience than me — the crowd that used to carry out inspections on horseback, dodging dinosaurs on the way there and back. I have been in this business for over 20 years now though, so I’d like to think my little trip down memory lane has at least some value to the younger appraisers out there!

When I got started as a qualified real estate appraiser, back in February 1996, it was a very different job to the one we have now. There were no smartphones. There were no tablets. Every inspection was carried out with a clipboard, a pen, a 100 ft tape measure and a 35mm camera. Many of the smaller towns I covered didn’t have MLS, or even a board of realtors. The only place you could find comps were in books that the real estate offices kept — in which they were reluctant to share with each other!

A typical appraisal would look something like this; I’d go through my inspection, taking the photos on my good-old 35mm camera, then head to one of these real estate offices. They’d recognize me immediately and wave me over to the usual area where I’d dig out a comp book, sit down at a table and leaf through it. If I found a good comp, I’d need to photocopy the relevant page, or if that luxury wasn’t available to me, scribble down all the information by hand; the address, the square footage, the year the property was built and so on.

The next stop was the courthouse. If you wanted the deeds, you couldn’t just ring up the staff there. Oh no! You had to go there and get all the information yourself. Bear in mind, the courthouse could be 50 miles from the real estate office you were just in and trying to navigate around rural areas back then – without GPS or Google Maps – was no joke.

After that, it was Walmart time. To any younger appraisers reading this today, you would not believe how much of my working life was spent in Walmart. I’d take my camera to the one hour photo booth there, hand over my film and simply spend the next hour wandering the aisles like a lost soul. I think that within a few years I’d gotten to know the aisles of every Walmart across three states by hand.

After I’d gotten the photos I would head back to my office and start putting together the actual report. Fortunately, I came along after the typewriter days, so at least I’ve always had a computer – along with a (primitive) copy of a la mode – to work with. I’d sketch the property, make the adjustments and so on, then print the whole thing out, take the photos and a good old-fashioned glue stick and literally paste the photos onto the paper! Finally, I’d photocopy the relevant map for the property from the phonebook (which usually had the best readily-available maps), add that in, staple the whole thing together and fold it, stuff it in an envelope and FedEx it off. And… that’s how we did real estate appraisals, back in the day!

A single real estate appraisal back then would take me two or three days, working eight hours per day. Nowadays, at an extremely conservative estimate, I can do four times as many appraisals. That’s what technology has done for our profession. This is why I take issue with people who say, “We haven’t had a raise in two decades.” Give me a break! Instead of complaining, we should realize just how far we’ve come in a short amount of time, be grateful for the technology we have access to now and in particular be mindful of the less fortunate appraisers who’ve come before us.

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 077 – The Way Things Used to Be.

70 thoughts on “The Way Things Used To Be”

  1. Pingback: The Way Things Used To Be - Appraisal Buzz

  2. True, but.

    When you include scope creep and all of the other expenses for those items I would say we still need a fee increase. I certainly do not have more time on my hands. When you do the gross by the hours, I would say we still need a fee increase.

  3. You forgot to mention using the subject and comps 1-3 stamp to place your subject and comps in the copied map. Gary

  4. Your logic is flawed. All these services costs money. Mls for two boards is $2k. PVa for each county charges a fee. Liability insurance is more than ever. Costs of living is at an all time high. Your smart phone and tablet charge a monthly fee.

  5. The whole industry has seen tremendous increases in profits, notably the lenders. The realtors have seen increases in commissions as values continue to rise. None of these people could make their money without a credible appraisal. Technology has assisted in all walks of life and has not stopped increases in fees from all types of businesses. It is ludicrous to suggest the only way an appraiser can see an increase in pay is to adopt more technology. It is long past time certain appraisers out there quit working so cheaply.

  6. So are your still doing reports for $350? How much $$ was your new truck 20 years ago? How much was a gallon of milk? Its called inflation – cost of living. So if your still doing $350 reports you have not had a raise

    1. Dan

      See my comments below. No, $350 appraisals are not common, but I will do a decreased scope of work appraisal for that.

  7. As Mike said- Cost of automobile (gas & insurance), cost of real estate (office/home office – taxes, insurance,utilities,etc.), health & life insurance, internet access costs, software costs, equipment upgrades. I’m sure if deeply reviewed one would find that cost of living expenses – INCLUDING RAISING YOUR FAMILY (College,sports,food) – are far greater than 20 years ago. We are a profession paid almost as an after thought. Respect is hard fought for & earned. We help to make very important financial decisions for individuals & conglomerates alike. We help settle cases of Law. After 26 years in the profession I have been able to negotiate sufficient fees with most of my clientele, both in the privates sector & banking circles, however, it has taken persistence & in most cases several negotiation attempts over several years. It should be noted Dustin, that I fully understand your business model & truly appreciate it, but as a veteran of 26 years & entering my twilight of business – expanding & training the office staff while trying to keep the company afloat in a less than affluent market (recession closed 8 industrial concerns in my area alone) is truly a taxing & probably unprofitable venture. I carry on, head high, doing the best I can to help people make logical decisions & raise my family.

  8. You also neglect the “butt” time in a car that has increased. Our area has been “fortunate” to have large increases in population. The 25 minute drive 30 years ago on a pastoral 2 lane road is now a 45 minute drive in bumper to bumper traffic on a 4 lane road. Driving “comps” time has also gone up the same way. Doing 3 states in a rural environment, you may not have seen such a change in time requirements.

    But for what it really used to be, when the appraiser was hired for his expertise…and service. Recourse loan originations made the user of our services want expertise since they didn’t want to have to buy them back. Once they had the expertise, then it was service, which was turning in a quality report on time. And no one was expecting email updates twice a day or changing due dates because you were able to see the property a day or two earlier than anticipated. Now that is a change.

  9. Ok, lets go back 15 years when we had digital cameras, digital maps, detailed MLS service etc. the average fee in my area was $250-$275 for a typical 1004. Since then with UAD, 1004MC, scope creep, etc. the time it takes to write a report has doubled, also expenses of doing business has doubled. Fees have not doubled. Full fee around here is $400 for non amc work.

  10. You are way off on this. Maybe you spend less time on an appraisal, because your assistant spends time on it. I don’t of any appraiser in my area whose time from order to completion has not doubled. Starting with AMC portal/update harassment, uploading/downloading from desktop to tablet via cloud, measuring finished/unfinished basements, 5 or 6 comps, UAD data transcribing BS, 1004MC data, and then scope creep. Then subtract portal fees, cell phone, internet, MLS dues, License fee, update class expense, E&O, gas expense, auto insurance, and then pay taxes. Even with all this added, I still get requests to do them for the same or less than the fee was 20 years ago, which I always decline. The profession is dying, killed off by big banks with lobbyists and using AMC’s as a dagger. (Why does Appraisal fee include amc profit on settlement sheet). They will be using AVM’s and charging borrowers an Appraisal fee at an amount that we “should be” paid to create a revenue stream for themselves. Just cut out the independent middleman, and when the loans go sour, hit up the suckers (taxpayer) for a bail out again. I would’t bring anyone into this field because I don’t know anyone I dislike that much. Five years and out.

    1. Right on spot VED, I could not have said it any better except this is my last licensing cycle and in 2-3 years I’m out. I am basically retired now but and taking only one or two assignments per week just to have something to do to stimulate my mind and supplement my SS income. I too would not encourage anyone into the appraisal profession as it is dying a slow death because the lending industry will never be seriously concerned about collateral risk as long as secondary market, FNMA and FHLMC, are allowed to pool sub-prime loans in with prime loans. In fact lenders are constantly trying to make loans more affordable and easier to obtain by loosening lending guidelines and appraisal requirements with the use valuation models less costly and less reliable than a full appraisal by a reputable appraiser. Nothing will replace the value of the eyes and expertise of a professional appraiser without a considerable increase in collateral risk. But, what’s to worry when we will always have a government willing to bail out the lending institutions with OUR taxpayer dollars. Will the cycle ever end? It most likely will not as long as those with the money have more power than those who don’t. Those with the money always seem to win in the end.

  11. Ditto with the other comments above. I try to rationalize in my head that $350 isn’t so bad in light of the technology etc.… But every week there’s a new gadget which really isn’t a gadget it all; it turns out to be something necessary to keep up with the Joneses and it all cost money . Not to mention having office staff who’s needs and pay constantly increase, naturally. In my area we still get bids from lenders with starting fees of $250, and I work in the rural areas- laughable!

  12. Dustin your article was short sited and I am not going to repeat the responses. My peers knocked it out of the park. The cost of living and doing business crushes technology gains not to mention increased expectations with big data available to everyone.
    As I was attaching my name to this I realized that you wanted to the pot. You don’t really believe we are financially in a better position, as a collective?

  13. We estimated 22 years ago it cost us $17.50 just to do 1 appraisal- where now cost is almost zero. Those old cost are the 35mm film, 1 hour film process at the nearby drug store, cost to copy the report and find all the flood maps, find a relevant map, get out those little arrows to point to your subject and comps, cost of those big envelopes and stamps or Fed Ex. When I left that office about 18 years ago, I started using all the newer digital cameras, and newer ways of producing a report- cost went way and down, productivity way up- my old business partner kept doing it the old way until he went out of business for good in the crash of 2008. I kept bugging him to at least get a digital camera, but he wanted to do it the old way. I remember older appraisers 22 years ago who drew out the entire sketch on paper, and just pasted that onto their report. I thought we were so futuristic using that new fangled way to sketch on alamode 22 years ago

  14. Dustin, I agree with the other appraisers here you are way off on this topic of fee increases. We all should be getting fee increases annually, unfortunately,. this industry has no backbone.

  15. Don’t worry, my appraiser friends, I have not forgotten about scope creep. I have addressed it here on more than one occasion. It was not the focus of today’s topic. The catch here, of course, is that we HAVE – at least many of us have – had a raise despite better technology. My average appraisal fee in 2017 was north of $500. As a bit of a side note, how many of us business owners kept/keep good enough records to know your P/L in the 90s vs now?

  16. Craig

    Thank you for your input. No one is saying we shouldn’t be getting nor that we don’t deserve fee increases. I certainly, over the years, have asked for and received huge fee increases. I will continue to work for clients who value my work – and pay me for it.

  17. It takes me as long now to complete a report as it did 15 years ago – longer when you add in the redundant and constant stipulation requests. Add back the “technology fees” and the hits keep coming. TRUTH is however the cost for a borrower to get an Appraisal has gone up at least 30% while the Appraiser is making 30% less for 30% more time. WE have taken a 50% pay cut on a per hour basis and the borrower is paying more. WHERE IS THE REST OF THE MONEY GOING??? They are making $Millions by getting paid on both sides of the transaction. It’s fraud and it’s a consumer ripoff. Do not EVER try and justify this crap again.

  18. Most are not, Sydney, but most are doing things a lot like they did 30 years ago. Not so much with technology, but with their business processes.

  19. VED

    Human Resources is another great point. The Law of Delegation is also a huge factor in why so many of my appraiser friends are so much better off now than they were decades ago. Thank you.

  20. “After 26 years in the profession I have been able to negotiate sufficient fees with most of my clientele“

    Yes! We need more of this

  21. Mike

    My logic is that tech (among other things) has made our lives better. You do not need to use any of these tools (cost should be considered) yet you do. I may not have included the cost of all this tech in a short blog piece, but would you really go back?

  22. “Nothing will replace the value of the eyes and expertise of a professional appraiser ”

    Agreed, and we should be proving that in the marketplace daily.

  23. Honestly, I think you’re way off base like many on here say. You didn’t mention the fee we pay to the AMC’s for them giving us business; they charge at least $500for a typical tract home, so are you saying they are part of technology?

  24. I agree with Craig G. “this industry has no backbone”. We need to ban together and fix this… Here is a email that I sent in reply to a “blast message” to over 100 appraisers. The initial message was a warning about Atlantic1 AMC not paying appraisers (The owner of the AMC keeps all the money and then opens another AMC…. )

    This theft of appraiser fees is only one aspect of the overall problems with AMC’s.
    IDEA: “let the AMC fee be a set percentage of the appraisal fee and the money be distributed by a 3rd party (Title company, financial service or escrow system…). This will eliminate AMC stealing from appraisers in more ways than one. “Customary and reasonable” will no longer be questioned; All will receive a consistent and proportionate fee set by the actual market.
    We have to ban together as appraisers and fix this problem. It will get worse when thee market slows down. Can you imagine having to do $100 appraisal because no work to go around and AMC are taking larger cut of our fee to survive? What about this fee charged by AMC’s for uploading reports? (No one pays a fee for my technology cost).
    Lets get together, spend a few dollars on legal representation and make appraising great again. (I’ll call Mr. Trump too, LOL…)

    I received several response saying “lets do it”. I also received one reply that said “I only work for lenders and a few amc’s that pay full fees and lenders. I wish everyone on the list did the same”. I did not reply, but was upset by this reply. I also only work for good paying clients but it wasn’t always that way. Also, what this appraiser does not understand is that those “low paying AMC’s” bring down the fees for everyone (think about it). We are far underpaid (I can support this claim but not now).
    Another appraiser friend said that “nothing wrong bidding on appraisal jobs.” I don’t think so, you don’t see Realtors and Lawyers bidding for jobs. Remember, the consumer is not the one in the bidding process. This is almost like a payroll company getting possesion of workers paychecks and having the workers bid on them.
    To conclude, can someone look into organizing the residential appraisers to help reform our industry? How about you Dustin? Now is the time…

  25. Speaking of photos, we are now being told to re-take a photo of a comparable every time even though we have taken it and visited the comp post sale previously. The excuse is that you may see that a sale was torn down (thus was a land sale) or other changes. I personally see this a very remote possibility and that the fuel and time spent to retake photos is redundant and non productive.

    1. On several occasions I have take comp. photos where the house was a knock-down and the lot was vacant or a new house was under construction or even completed and occupied or the original house had been totally renovated and in new condition when before it was an “as-is” sale of an unrenovated house or a “Shell” so what do you do? I used the photo I take and also mount the MLS photo or a Google street shot to show the comp.’s condition at or near the time of it’s sale.

  26. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. Yes- “in the old days” we had to draw the floor plan by hand and calculate it (at least twice to make sure of our numbers), take the photos, drop them off and pray they kept them in order so we could paste them correctly on the pages, do the labels on the map that we photocopied from Mapsco or some other book, even- in the beginning- try to line up the pages of the form in the typewriter to print- photocopy the reports and put them in a Fed Ex Pac and drop them off at a Fed Ex Drop Box. Cost for film and developing was our big expense. Then we got computers- wow that was great – then the digital camera- I remember I resisted the camera until one of my clients actually bought me one so I could get his work done faster ! Boy was I surprised at how much time and money this saved. Thru the years other expenses cropped up- MLS dues (4 times a year), Appraisal classes every 2 years, ink cartridges, new printers, new computers, cost of Real Comp, other new services that came along- renewal for my software once a year (approx. $500+), Appraisal Port, E&O Insurance, and whatever else I can’t think of just now. Yes, I guess it has gotten faster, but not easier- lots more liability today – it has definitely gotten costlier than it was 20-30 years ago- Cars cost more, gas costs more, office rent cost more and even if you have a home office- houses cost more – 30 years ago I paid a babysitter $1.00 per hour- today that babysitter gets $5.00 -$10.00 per hour- 30 years ago I made $350 for a typical URAR, today I get $350-$400 per URAR. If I take my costs out of my $350 fee I dread to think what I really make. When you say we make more because it has gotten faster- you leave out all the new expenses “getting faster” has created. So that $350 fee that is 30 years old doesn’t make any sense but because we are so afraid they are going to do away with us because of all the new technology out there ready to replace us, we just keep trying to justify these fees. Last appraisal I did was for a property that sold for $1,200,000. Each of the Realtors got $36,000 for their efforts, the lender got thousands of dollars for his work – the title co. made their thousands and I made $585. Yes- it makes sense to do away with the appraiser- look at how much they can save. Sad.

  27. Michael F- you have made some good points- I have never understood why we have such trouble getting appraisers to band together like the Realtors do- they have a very powerful lobby and they get their way on everything they do- maybe because so many of us work alone we just can’t get everyone “in the same room”. Too bad- we are letting this profession die a slow death, but it is going away if something isn’t done about it.

  28. One more comment and then I have to get back to work. Don’t you love it when the Reviewer at the AMC sends a request to “look at these 3 comps and tell us why they wouldn’t be better ones to use”. I always want to send back a reply that says ” I was just waiting for you to find me better comps so I didn’t have to spend too much of my time looking for the best comps- I realize with you sitting at your desk in Minneapolis and me here at my desk in the smack dab middle of my market area, you know more about my market than I do- and I appreciate your help in finding me the “best comps.”

  29. Thanks Dustin for always being a positive leader! I only have 12 years in but every year I try to implement something new to make my process a little better/faster. I’ve learned a lot listening to you and other appraisers. Sure there’s bad days, aggravating stips and my favorite is the borrower who won’t work with any of my appt times because “they work”…but I’m very thankful for this profession. I make an income I’m proud of, my children have never had to go to daycare, I’ve never missed a ball game or class party and all that is priceless! Thanks for the reminder of things we have to be thankful for!!

  30. I agree that technology has made it so we can complete reports quicker and our hourly rates have increased because of this. My average fees are also quite a bit higher than they were 15 years ago when I started, but there are still so many companies trying to pay us $300-350, which is lower than what fees were when I started. I wish the increase in technology in other industries saved me any money. If you go to get your oil changed you’ll notice they’re using all sorts of technology to increase efficiency that they did not have 20 years ago yet the charge to get this done is 2-3 times what it was 20 years ago. Technology has improved efficiency in every industry there is over the last 20 years, but this doesn’t mean they still charge the same. It’s really up to us as appraiser’s to realize this and increase our fees over time so that they are consistent with inflation. It’s our own damn fault for not increasing our fees and charging what we’re worth.

  31. In my belief, it’s a matter of respect. I started in this career in 1971. At that time an appraiser’s opinion was respected. For the most part, no more. There are some people/entities that truly want our opinion, but all mortgage brokers, AMC’s, etc., etc., believe the competent appraisers are scum of the earth and are doing everything in their power to bypass us. I have a college education and have attended numerous courses and continuing education, just like accountants, lawyers, whoever. Look at their fees and the respect (most times) accorded them. I ponied up a $700 fee to my accountant last year for, in my opinion, a minimal amount of effort on his part.

    Just ramblings from an old fart.

  32. I think the clean air of Idaho has warped your logic Dustin. I understand you have a cheerleading dance squad cult and work under the assumption that you know what’s going in every corner of the world, but when YOUR state population (1.6 million) is only half of that of MY PRIMARY COUNTY (3.3 million / within 30 miles of me), don’t apply your limited knowledge on such a grand scale. Based on simple population numbers, my single county would have twice the workload as your entire state, and with a heavy appraiser population (+/- 950), most all would disagree with your logic relating to fees. Stop applying your corner of the world logic to the rest of us, and stop trying to talk us out of what is reality for many.
    Seek the truth.

    1. Bill. Good to hear from you again (and preaching the same old rhetoric I see). Just one question, if my boring old principles only work in Idaho, why do I have Mastermind students across the country (including several in S CA) doing similar things and running super successful appraisal companies?

      1. That same old rhetoric is reality for MOST even though you try to pom-pom your way to convince the industry otherwise. If 20 years ago the average fee was $400 locally (100% to the appraiser), but today the magic number paid by the borrower is $495, but with AMC involvement ($125 to $150 off the top) the split to the appraiser is on average less (from 20 years back), your math doesn’t work. Dustin, you fail to understand the reality of averages, and simply applying your local situation to the masses with some assistance from perhaps a few dozen all star groupies spread throughout the country. In bringing to light facts, in that my SINGLE county of San Diego has 3.3 million people, versus your entire state of 1.6 million, if fees are routinely in the $350 to $400 range here, then by volume your numbers ($$), mean less and less pig picture. You can’t take the average fee from your top level clients (A & B), and simply apply on a national level as fact, when by VOLUME the MAJORITY of all the work goes through level C, D, E, and F clients. I could go on forever Dustin disproving your alternate facts, but instead I refer you to others here who share my rhetoric. Can your next blog please be about hybrid appraisals and how by doing them for $25 a pop ( ) we can all make more money today versus 20 years ago. If you can do up to 9 full appraisals a day at an average of $500 Dustin ($4,500), I look forward to future blogs explaining how with a crowbar, tweezers, and dental floss we can all make $4,500 a daily by completing 180 hybrid appraisals per day.
        Seek the truth.

  33. Bill, why don’t you spend all the time you spend ripping Dustin’s blog posts on gaining geographic competency in a new state or region where you are well paid. Let me help you out…move to Colorado, Washington or Oregon. Fees are great and the clean air just might change your life. Every time I read one of your posts I think somebody must be holding a gun to your head forcing you to be an appraiser. It’s America dude…lots of options here.

    1. If by ripping, you mean stating facts, then I’m guilty as charged Jack. I’ve never been one to run from a fight, and becoming a nomad chasing the buffalo, or in this case COW (Colorado, Oregon, Washington), is not in my DNA. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid Jack, and just ignore most of the commenters here that disagree with Dustin. My comments are big picture, and what might be reality for most, doesn’t mean I wear those shoe covers.
      Seek the truth.

    1. Are you crying Dustin because half of the people here disagree with your preaching’s, and thus find no need to buy your VHS tapes? I have had my hand in many appraisal niches over the years, and currently work when I want, for A+ clients on my terms. The big picture facts that I speak of may not apply to you, me, or perhaps half the people who post here, but without raising the tide for all, the industry will continue to collapse. Your arrogant to the reality of most, and your doubling down on issues when many in your audience disagree with you, seems to be a push for your sponsors, versus a push to support the appraisal profession. Keep supporting the use of AMC’s, keep your booth at Valuation Expo, and don’t take a stand with joining organizations that have big picture policies in mind.
      Seek the truth.

  34. Bill

    Hate to boil it down to simplicities ( because it is a complicated issue), but one of the answers could be to stop working for those C, D, E, and F clients. They are all Y clients and “Y” the hell are you working for them? My biggest issue with you Bill is not your points (we can debate and consider all sides), it is your continued victim mentality. According to you, life sucks and it isn’t your fault.

    Oh, and I just wrapped up a two week webinar on desktop appraisals. If you want to know how I feel about that issue, I invite you to participate. I was joined by Ernie Durbin and Tim Andersen (both respected MAIs) and we laid it all out there.

    Hate to say it, but I am trying to do something about our situation as a whole as well as my personal business situation. Other than complaining Bill, what are you doing?

  35. My comments are mostly related to the mortgage lending sector. Depends on what State, County & City you live in. If you work in a market where median single- family residences typically range between $200-400k range (for example), then yes, seems “reasonable”. Still I don’t agree. Much less liability and much easier task, typically. But if you live in Southern California where the median single-family residence is near 800K and most of your residential assignments are in excess of 1 million dollars then national appraisal rates are irrelevant. Who ever wrote this article must be living in a State where making $100,000 a year is living high on the hog. That $100,000 a year is comparable to making $400,000 a year living in California or another State with high living costs, Etc….That being said, cost of appraisals should also be based on location / median pricing. And most AMC’s charge the clients (lenders) similar fee’s across the board. In addition, AMC’s that manage assignments in areas with excess amount of appraisers abuse the price they pay to a typical residential appraiser. Because they have appraisers willing to take less of a fee in order to get the work flow and that relationship continues because it increases the margins for the AMC’s. Another great example. I’ve heard rumors of appraisers in other states with less professional appraisal competition getting paid $600.00 per assignment in an area with a median home price of approx. $400k. And the turn times are 1-3 weeks. In Southern California us appraisers turn similar assignments around in less than 5 days and much less. Also, the more appraisers available means you have to turn your assignments around quicker in order to stay in the “Q” Otherwise you get thrown to the bottom of the panel (if you’re not on the AMC’s favored list). This profession is drying up and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes completely automated and controlled by only a few greedy (looped in) people. I’m wondering how all these bloated AMC’s are going to handle their first residential market downturn. I have a feeling it’s just over the bubble….ha! Who ever wrote this article is living in a fantasy world. Good Luck tho! Rant over!

  36. Bill

    crying? No. Laughing out loud at the previous comment? Absolutely. Bill, perhaps I need to create a VHS course on emoji’s. That might be helpful to you in the future.

    1. Why would I not be surprised that you don’t support appraisers staying and fighting for local issues , but instead support a carny lifestyle where professions must move from city to city with the circus to the next county fair. Keep selling your snake oil as my state loses an appraiser a day, and keep supporting those AMC’s that benefit no one.
      Seek the truth.

      1. Bill

        This conversation is getting stale, and I am getting bored, but I have to ask what the hell you were talking about. How do I not support Appraisers? I give all kinds of money to multiple coalitions who are fighting the good fight for Appraisers. I spend a great deal of time writing about, speaking about, and encouraging Appraisers to get involved. Personally, I am involved on many different levels in trying to change the landscape. If you think all I do is “sell my snake oil,“, you obviously don’t know much about what I do want to day-to-day basis. Sorry my friend, your words have no merit if they don’t have support.

        1. Talk about getting stale, this is the same blog from months earlier only with a different title but the same outcome (most disagree with you). If you keep it simple Dustin, and focus on one topic AMC’s (off issue for this blog), than your support for some of them (clients A, B), is in reality, a general support for all of them. If you stand on your soapbox, and have your booth at Valuation Expo supporting such a corrupt system (harm to borrowers/appraisers), then you are the tip of the spear (in support) to what many appraisers indicate is the biggest cancer facing our industry. Your rhetoric gets picked up by the likes of Mortgage News Daily, where as two years ago as the head speaker at Valuation Expo they falsely indicate the typical appraiser competes 3 appraisals per day, at a fee of $700. You and your friends like Joan Trice, in my opinion do more harm to the industry, then help, all while pedaling products to make money off the appraisers back. As it relates to your thoughts of me having a victim mentality by continuing to bring up issues (often disagreeing with you), should we celebrate the fact that the city of Los Angeles (population of 4 million) only had 280 homicides last year (didn’t affect me), or do we fight for big picture issues and for those affected?
          Seek the truth.
          Seek the truth.

  37. There is one fundamental fact that I keep coming back to. Most of the businesses I interact with, including doctors, lawyers, accountants, dentists, and auto mechanics have benefited from a improvement in technology that make their tasks more efficient. However not one of these professions receives payments for services rendered in an amount that is equal to what they charged ten years ago.

  38. Good point, Duane. Actually, it’s an excellent point.

    If I am plied that we don’t deserve a raise, I did not mean to. We do. I’m simply pointing out that sometimes we fail to look at all aspects of a problem.

    Thank you for bringing me back to reality.

  39. Some more reality from my area in MA and regarding DH human resource comment.
    In addition to expenses noted in prior post: Median home price $360K, heath insurance $1,400 per month for two non-smoking adults, Plumber = $150/hr., Electrician $125/hr., Auto mechanic $95/hr., Restaurant manager $60,000 per year, and one of the ten most expensive states to live in.
    Compare this to: Appraisal in 1999 = $350 (2 hrs. 12 pages avg. per report); Construction inspection $75, completion inspection $100
    And now………….. Appraisal in 2018= $450 (4hrs. 26 pages avg. per report); Construction inspection $75, completion inspection $100!
    Also note, seven major lenders are no longer clients because they won’t pay $450.
    Also, tried to bring my wife into this (she has a trainees license) but after many classes/ expos, she felt “Appraisers are such a depressed group of people who just seem to be barely hanging on”.
    To summarize: not better off, should have been a plumber!
    Human resource / assistant: It seems from your videos and comments assistants provide “substantial” contributions to your Appraisals. How much per hour do they get paid, are there names cited in the report, and do they have Appraiser trainee or other license?
    To all, lets keep this blog constructive, since time is a premium for us. I would love to hear from others regarding their view of then vs. now.

    1. Try being in San Diego/Carlsbad VED where the median home price is over $800,000, the typical fee is less today ($350 / AMC split), compared to 15 years ago ($400), minimum wage 20 years ago was $5 where as the entire state will soon be $15 per hour, premium gas is approaching $4.00 (CA blend), and the hourly mechanic rate here is over $150. In a previous blog post by Dustin ( ), I tried in vain to bring up the cost of living effect on ones true net income, but as it disproves his theory (then and now), it was a dead end. My comments there apply in many ways to this new blog.
      Seek the truth.

  40. Whoa, it appears the messenger is being gutted. I have no affiliation with Dustin, just met him at several ATA seminars and considered him to be an articulate individual about this profession. Question, what have the naysayers in this thread contributed to this profession, other than bitching/whining? I’ll take cheese with that.

  41. My intent is not to gut Dustin as the messenger or for me to be gutted as the messenger as well. The real feedback here, is that many feel the way I do regarding then vs. now. I have presented facts and information for a hopefully constructive debate. Thanks to all those who took the time to respond with useful information, including simply saying they feel the same way.
    Where are the responses from all those happy, energetic Appraisers that have created some value being an Appraiser today? Have you quit bank work? Is the bulk of your work done with assistants? Do your MLS’s allow for UAD format downloads? Either no body will respond on the upside because they are selfish, doing something unethical, or don’t exist. Based on the responses so far, one would have conclude the latter.

  42. Bill,

    Thanks for the reply. We are on the same page for sure. I have friends in NAPA, and they shock me all the time with the cost of living out there too. The fact is that then was better vs. now (i.e: just got finished with another USPS address dispute revision request). For Dustin, if you are a Coach, you keep trying to motivate, no matter how bad the situation is, even though the game may be lost. I can respect that for what it is, but it does not change the reality.

    Take care,


  43. VED

    I appreciate your civil tone. I think these kinds of discussions go a lot further when we can remain open to each other‘s ideas.

    The part of my job as a coach is to motivate, it is also to deal in realities. It is not just cheerleading. The fact is, there are many different ways to work. I deal with a great many Appraisers, even in the Southern California area, who do quite well. They do work differently than most appraisers Across the country. My goal is to simply help Appraisers look at things differently than they have in the past. I think a fresh perspective, and new ideas, give us further enlightenment on how to better our situation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Scroll to Top

Existing Members

If you have been a member prior to Jan. 1st 2024

Or, click on the right side to sign up as a new member (with a free month and added bonus material) and your existing membership will be automatically moved over and any extra payments credited. 

Or, click on the link below to sign up as a new member (with a free month and added bonus material) and your existing membership will be automatically moved over and any extra payments credited. 

New Members

If you became a member after Jan. 1st 2024 or are an existing member and want to move to our new system. 

Try the All-Star Team No-Risk for 30 Days Free!